“If you think you're ready to walk to the summit of three of Bulgaria's toughest peaks: Musala, Malyovitsa and Vihren, then there's only one way to go and that's up.”
Sofia | Demyanitsa Valley | Vasilashki lakes | the 'Eyes of Todorka' | Todorina Porta high pass (alt 2500m) | Pirin Mountains | Bunderishki lakes | ascent to Mount Vihren (alt 2914m) | Golyam Kazan cirque | UNESCO Rila Monastery | Rila Mountains | ancient forests and glacial lakes | ascent to Mount Malyovitsa (alt 2729m) | ascent to Mount Musala (alt 2925m) |
Check dates, prices & availability
Price per adult
01 Jul 2017
US $ 1085
15 Jul 2017
US $ 1085
29 Jul 2017
US $ 1125
6 spaces left
26 Aug 2017
US $ 1085
30 Jun 2018
US $ 1125
14 Jul 2018
US $ 1125
28 Jul 2018
US $ 1125
18 Aug 2018
US $ 1125
Our top tip:
Summit days, especially, will prove to be a challenge so make sure you've put in a fair few hours 'training' prior to heading to Bulgaria. Take plenty of energy bars, drinks and Kendall mint cake to keep you going.
Small group. Average size 12. Minimum age 18.
Challenging. Good level of fitness and previous experience hiking rocky terrain essential.
7 nights in comfortable en-suite hotels.
Accommodation, transfers, vehicle support and tour leader throughout.
All breakfasts, 6 lunches and 6 dinners.
Single room supps not available.
Small group vacation
Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, traveling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week vacation, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.
The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travelers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.
We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.
What are the main benefits?
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.
Make the most of your vacation time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!
Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travelers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your vacation.
Solo travelers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those traveling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.
Less confident travelers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travelers their own room.
“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.
“The accommodation will be basic” Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.
“I won’t like the other travelers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.
“Will we be following an umbrella?”
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson
Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando
Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travelers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.
Responsible tourism: Bulgaria walking vacation
Activity: Few vacations have as little detrimental impact on the environment and local residents as a walking and trekking trip. Erosion on and adjacent to popular paths is a growing problem in certain places and therefore our trip leaders encourage clients to stick to advised routes in order to minimise this. We do believe in leaving no more than footprints although this tour actively encourages guests to talk to local people, visit local cafes and restaurants, use markets to purchase traditional gifts and crafts. We also leave a positive impact by paying National Park fees and buying from the Rila Monastery to contribute to upkeep.
Water: Water is important with active trips and whilst we must stay hydrated, it is also vital that we have a system for providing clean water without causing lots of waste with plastic bottles. We suggest that instead of repeatedly buying bottled water, guests should re-fill a singular bottle from taps and fountains in the mountains. 10. The local water in the village is drinkable and of good quality so all clients are advised that it is preferable to drink this rather than purchase bottled water.
UK Office: It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.
Accommodation & Meals: We spend all seven nights in family run hotels, which employ local people and take every opportunity to source produce and supplies within the area. There is an abundance of local cuisine on offer and the villages in which we stay often produce their own dairy products, eggs, seasonal vegetables, pulses, jams and honey etc. Or when it is necessary, the ingredients will come from the surrounding region – such as trout from a nearby fish farm. In supporting local agriculture and hotels, we bolster the local economy and provide clients with a really authentic experience. Where meals are not provided we suggest you visit the local market in Bankso or a traditional inn.
Local Craft and Culture: During their stay in Bankso and whilst visiting the Rila Monastery, clients have the opportunity to purchase local produce and products that have been manufactured by local communities. Whilst staying in the village of Govedartsi , we arrange for the local folk dance group to perform for the group, and for this we pay the men from the ensemble a fee, plus clients usually give tips of their own. This is a great chance to provide an avenue of income for a rural community.
Group Size: This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.